Recently I purchased “In this Corner of the World” and as I was watching it, I was thinking about what kind of post I could do on it. Then I remembered that over the summer I’d purchased Grave of the Fireflies, but hadn’t finished watching it. I still never finished it, but I think I have enough to compare the two films a bit.
Right off the bat, these two movies are vastly different in their age. “In this Corner of the World” (I’m going to abbreviate to ICW) having come out in 2016, and “Grave of the Fireflies” being in 1988. The tones used in both are clearly different just by viewing the covers. “ICW” is bright and colorful, using pastel colors and blue skies. “Grave of the Fireflies” is all browns and grays, sullen and serious. And I think just the covers reflect how the whole movie is going to play out in both situations.
Both of these movies are about World War II, but they tell of very different characters and stories.
Grave of the Fireflies
When I watched this, I only got halfway through, due to the heavy nature of the film. It’s horrific at times. And the grim colors became overbearing. I ended up abandoning it because it was just so sullen, and something you might want to know about me is I generally don’t watch anything without lighthearted scenes. My favorite anime are brightly colored, sometimes serious, sometimes funny. I can’t handle things that are grim for too long. I still got a lot out of the hour I watched of this movie, though, and I’m not sure if I am ever going to want to finish it. I can’t see myself being in the mood to make mI don’t think it’s a bad movie by any means, but you need to know what to expect going into it.
In the beginning there’s a scene depicting the death of the main character, in a train station. Quickly after, the viewer is thrown into immediate devastation. The main characters, Seito and his younger sister Setsuko, lose their home and parents in one attack. Their mother is on the brink of death initially, wrapped up from head to toe in bandages, barely able to talk or move. Seito talks to her, hoping that she’ll survive, but there was no way any doctor could save her. (I’m sparing you from seeing what their mother looked like, and myself from seeing it on my blog forever)
This scene has been burned into my memory. It’s the one thing I remembered from my time watching it, and I remember being horrified. Imagining what it would be like to be in the position of Seito scares me. Watching your mother as hardly a person anymore, holding onto her final breaths, until finally you become an orphan in the middle of a raging war.
Things only get worse for the siblings from there. They are forced to fend for themselves until they can find a family member willing to take them in. And even when this happens, they are treated horribly, and eventually are forced to leave. Their own aunt wasn’t willing to help out in the most desperate times. She claimed that they weren’t pulling their own weight, even though they worked to make their own food and only used the items they’d brought on their back. She doomed her family members to die.
I don’t remember much else after the aunt kicked them out, since I don’t think I watched much more after that.
In this Corner of the World
From the cover, this movie looks like it’ll be a lighthearted tale about a young woman. It’s not that at all. It’s real, and devastating, not as graphically depicted as Grave of the Fireflies, but I found myself nearing tears multiple times throughout my watch. It’s not nearly as rough and grim, though, and there are actually some sweet, happy scenes throughout to take a break from the tragedy.
The main character, Suzu, finds herself being married to a complete stranger, moving far from her family in Hiroshima and taking on an entirely new life during the dawn of World War II. She has to learn how to be the best wife she can be, despite her incompetency in doing household chores. She’d rather have her nose in a sketchbook, drawing whatever she feels like. Her new husband works for the Navy, and she lives in her in-laws’ house, where she feels out of place at first, but gradually warms up to her new family.
She takes a great liking to her niece, Harumi, and strives to teach her all she can about the world. Her mother, Suzu’s sister-in-law, is a woman of grief, as her husband had died recently, and her son was taken in by other family members, leaving her only with her daughter. She moves in with her brother, parents, and sister-in-law due to her struggle to support both of them. She initially hates Suzu, but through teaching her about what she needs to know about housework, they get along fairly well.
Though the happiness between the family does not remain for long. Bombs begin dropping in their town, Kure, which is in the outskirts of Hiroshima. They seem to be constantly running to the bomb shelters, praying that the bombs will miss them. Suzu becomes worried that her husband will be killed in the war, and the shelters only make her anxiety over it worse. Every chance she got, she would stand outside and admire the nature for as long as she could. Sometimes, she would linger too long during an air raid warning, and her life became endangered.
What Both Movies Bring
I had to revise this section of this post, since it caused a lot of debate on my views. I didn’t word my thoughts correctly, and I apologize if I sounded like I didn’t know what I was talking about beforehand.
In school, I never got to learn a lot about the Japanese civilians’ perspective of World War II, and through these movies, I finally can understand that part of the war. In all countries involved in this war, there was devastation and all parties involved acted in violent ways that hurt a huge amount of people. Though, much of the time, when learning about the attacks of Pearl Harbor and Hiroshima and Nagasaki, I’m taught that Japan was the one in the wrong. They did attack our military base, and did kill a lot of people in the military. But what we did back was no better, and I think in the end, it was worse. We dropped two bombs on civilians, and through the movies, I can see that it affected many families and caused a lot of pain. Not saying that the Pearl Harbor attack didn’t cause grief and pain, but the numbers don’t lie.
Pearl Harbor took out 2,000 people and wounded 1,000. Some were civilians. But, 90% of Hiroshima was destroyed, 80,000 people dying, and in Nagasaki 40,000 were killed. Why I’m taught that Japan was wrong, I’ll never know. We devastated them much more than they did us. We won, but at the cost of at least 120,000 lives. (Source: History.com)
It’s also important for me to understand what it is really like to live in the midst of a war, since I’ve never been alive during one taking place in my country. I don’t know the pain and suffering, the anxiety and hopelessness, that exists during a war. Both movies do a great job of depicting just how scary it is to be alive during those times. I really felt for the characters, watching them go through all of this. It’s something we take for granted, living in a relatively peaceful time. I’m aware of the threats, and the constant danger in the Middle East, along with the social justice wars constantly raging in my country especially. But it’s just a totally different knowledge to be aware of what it’s like to live in it.
I feel bad I followed my Haikyuu!! post with this, but I’d meant to post this a while ago, and never did. Next up I’ll be doing a little reflection on a recent title, which will be more light and fun, I assure you. Then, I’ll be doing a larger two-part post that I’ve been planning for quite some time but haven’t found a good time to post them.
I hope you enjoyed this post, and I look forward to posting again on Friday!